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2008 Mitsubishi Evolution - The Upgrades Continue - Project Evolution

Chasing the elusive 2-minute-flat time at Buttonwillow Raceway Park

My personal goal for Project Evolution is to run a sub-2-minute lap time at our local test track, Buttonwillow Raceway Park (configuration 13 clockwise). If you can run under 2 minutes flat, then you’ve got a fast and capable car by most racer standards. The last track outing netted me a respectable 2:03:2 lap time — close, but still a ways away from my target time. Three seconds may not seem like a lot to shave off, but it’s an eternity in the real world. Considering that I was driving the car pretty much at its limit, it was back to the drawing board to see what modifications I could do to get my time down.

First on the list, a stiffer rear sway bar. Talking to many of the competitive time attack teams, they all recommended a bigger rear sway bar that would help rotate the car turning into corners. Whiteline, an Australian company that has a reputation for making some of the best suspension products, produces adjustable front and rear sway bars for the EVO X. Even though they provided me with the complete set, I decided to run the rear one first and (if I deemed it necessary) would install the front bar at a later time. The 27mm sway bars are made of high-grade Australian steel, then powdercoated silver for durability. The bars are three-way-adjustable, so you can increase the roll stiffness if you find the first setting too soft. Adding these bars to the EVO will help roll stiffness and ultimately increase the overall grip being exhibited on the tire. Sway bars are a great inexpensive mod that’s very worthwhile if you track your car.

To handle the stiffer rear Whiteline sway bar, a set of Hotchkis rear sway bar endlinks were added. These CNC-machined 6061 aluminum links with three-piece PTFE lined heim joints are much stiffer than their OE counterparts and will increase the effectiveness of the sway bar. Being adjustable also allows for easy corner balancing of the car. Thanks to its high-quality, three-piece heim joints, according to Hotchkis, you can expect quiet and smooth operation. Not having tested them for a long period of time, I can’t say whether that’s true, but so far there’s no noise to be heard of.

While we had the EVO up on the lift, it was a perfect opportunity to add some new fluid into both the engine and drivetrain. I’ve been using Redline Synthetic motor oil for many years now and find it to be a great, long-lasting product that provides the utmost protection during gruelingly hot track days. I also tried Redline’s latest transaxle fluid, MT-85, in the gearbox with good success.

Before I topped up the engine oil with some Redline 5W-30, I decided to change out the stock oil cooler thermostat to a lower-temperature one. During the summer, I didn’t like how hot the engine oil was getting and a lower thermostat would help combat that. HKS makes a 167-degree Fahrenheit (76 Celsius) low-temp oil thermostat that installs in a matter of minutes and is worth the measly $60 it costs.

Adding the Whiteline rear sway bar and Hotchkis rear endlinks would surely improve my lap time, but I was skeptical that it could do so by 3 seconds. Actually, I knew it couldn’t. I would need a little more help in the grip department — and if I could shed a few pounds, as well — then that sub-2-minute lap time would be right in my sights. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to mount my Nitto NT01 tires and install some Recaro SPG racing seats; you’ll have to wait for the next installment that will outline those upgrades and how I fared at the track.

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